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Beading Blog - April 2008

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One woman's adventures in the wide, wonderful world of beading.
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posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 6, 2008 at 2:24 PM (Pacific)

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of using a tiny round bead, instead of a crimp (see previous Rambles...).

What I had on hand were crimp tubes. They actually don't look bad, crimped on a hoop like that, but a tiny round bead would likely look much better.

I've been turning it over in my mind about soldering. Wondering how feasible it would be to solder an earring frame, say, that already had dangles on it. Would it melt the wire on the dangles? For briolettes, I've been using a double loop at the top. It would be more difficult doing such a loop directly on the wire.

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 5, 2008 at 8:26 PM (Pacific)

I got to finish some earrings today. Boy, were they a pain to finish! I had this idea of making a round hoop, with a curved bar inside it, like a much simpler version of these: Gokul earrings. Just the bottom hoops with the bar inside, and stuff hanging from the bar and from the bottom edge of the hoop. (Not even the fancy dangles hanging from the bottom, just regular little dangles.)

Thing is, I haven't taken up soldering yet. I don't think it's a big deal, but it does represent cost, both in time and in tools and materials. Soldering will be my second phase of jewelry making; I'm thinking of taking it up next year.

Anyhow...I had no idea how I was going to do the curved bar inside the hoop. I knew it wasn't going to be as simple as these:

madeira citrine earrings

Here, the shape of the hoop keeps the horizontal bar from sliding around. I knew that wasn't going to happen with the round hoops, but figured I'd go ahead, make the hoops and take it from there.

So I made the hoop and to keep this thing from sliding around? These are the versions I ran through:

drawing of hoop versions

In figure 1, I tried wrapping fine-gauge wire tightly around the sides of the hoop, directly under the curved bar. This didn't work, no matter how tightly I did the wrap. If you pushed firmly on the coil of wire, it slid down the side of the hoop.

I then tried wrapping fine-gauge wire above the curved bar, on either side of the hoop (figure 2). This worked, because the bar could not slide, but looked funny, since the wrapped wire covered only the top part of the hoop.

Figure 3 entailed covering the rest of the hoop with the fine-gauge wire. I've seen this done in finished pieces, but it didn't work here. You'd have to finagle the dangles on the bottom of the hoop...I had mine just hanging from the hoop itself. So the only way to do the wrapped wire, would be to use a continuous piece of wire. Anything else, the bottom wrap of wire would slide down...unless you wrapped it right up against the dangles on the bottom of the hoop. In which case, the dangles wouldn't really dangle, they'd just be stuck in a piece.

So I'm thinking, do I really want this entire earring to stand or fall, based on a continuous strand of wire?

Figure 4 was my solution. I didn't use fine-gauge wire at all. As an aside, I rather disliked the fine-gauge wire experience. I've used it to "glue" components together, I don't mind that, but the idea of covering the entire frame with wrapped wire irked me. The wrapped wire added to the weight of the earring, and there wasn't much practical way to use a continuous piece of were stuck patching the wraps together, and ending up with little odds and ends of wire trimmings (I know, if you did this often enough, you wouldn't have much waste).

In the end I just used...crimps. That's right, crimps. I put a crimp under each end of the curved bar. And it worked.

Thinking on it now...another solution could be to use a tiny silver bead under each end of the curved bar. You could then hammer the wire under the tiny bead to keep the bead in place. I've done stuff like that although it's tricky (you really have to hammer the wire to keep even a small bead in place).

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 2, 2008 at 5:37 PM (Pacific)

Hi! Haven't had much time to blog lately...

It's occurred to me...a new earring design usually takes me several days, at least. Sometimes longer. Once I have the design, it takes me several hours to actually fabricate the earrings.

I was thinking of that today...from the beginning, I had wanted to develop several designs and just use those. Part of it is sheer laziness, no doubt, but I believe in modularity anyway in my life. If I find a sweater I like, I'll buy the same sweater in as many different colors as I need, rather than try to find a different sweater. If it works, it works.

So far:

sapphire hoop indian-style earrings

I've already made another of this pattern, using a tiny prehnite faceted onion as the top stone, and three green amethyst faceted pears on the bottom (the pears were too big to use five). I'm thinking of making a garnet pair as well.

madeira citrine hoop earrings

This is good too. I'm planning to make a green pair...going through my clothes today, I realized how much green I wear. Blue is useful too. Thinking on it, I should make a green and a blue pair of every design.

green amethyst and goldfilled chain hoop earrings

This works, but a caveat: I got rid of the emeralds.

This is better for a larger stone...and might look nice with more unusual chains, like a figure-8 or textured chain. Even though I like this flat cable chain.

sapphire and sterling silver hoop earrings

This is an efficient use of tiny stones! I have a gold version, but need to redo it--I tried putting gold beads on the outside of the stones, instead of just using them to space out the stones. That doesn't work, since the gold beads are too light weight, they end sliding up the sides of the hoops. Plus, I think I'll do a simple-loop headpin rather than a wrapped-loop one, for the gold version.

That's it so far! I have other earrings I've made, but those are more one-of-a-kind, I'm not planning on reusing the design.

I'm also thinking of a round hoop, with a curved bar in the hang stones from both the curved bar and the bottom of the hoop.

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